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Loofish Ramblings

My thoughts and ponderings on games and gaming, including lunch time sessions, couple and family gaming and thoughts on the games that are catching my eye.

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March Summary: Another Game of Star Realms?

David
United States
DURHAM
North Carolina
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March gaming was a little sparser than the previous months of the year, mostly because we had a 9 day trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos in the middle of it. So both packing and going on that trip took up a lot of potential gaming time. My wife has been busy with work too. So I was a little surprised to find we managed 37 plays but the clue comes with the number of different games, only 8 different ones. They are very much dominated by quick games, 30 minutes or less and highly familiar at that, so barely any rules crunching occurred. And the undisputed king of that is Star Realms, with most of those plays coming from the new set Star Realms: Colony Wars. Those on the base set were mostly pass n play games on the iPad, exploring the new cards has been the driver of our play. We also had our little Rosenberg trio (including a first play of Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – More Buildings Big and Small) and, as a change of pace from pass'n'play Star Realms, we had some pass'n'play Ascension: Deckbuilding Game.

So other than hiking up volcanoes, seeing penguins, flamingos, tortoises, blue-footed boobies and sea lions, we didn't do much else.

Game Qty
Star Realms (including Colony Wars) 26
Ascension: Deckbuilding Game 4
Rat Hot 2
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (with More Buildings) 1
Le Havre: The Inland Port 1
Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King 1
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival 1
Patchwork 1

I had a strangely up and down time on Yucata: I got promoted to Chilan Priest but then decided to go on a massive losing streak and was promptly demoted back to Macom Priest. But I wasn't done yet - I seemed to only win my non-scoring games - so got demoted again to Astrologer. Trying to decide if I want to go down again or not, the magic 8-ball says "Ask Again Later". The meta game on Yucata is fun, especially when you are getting promoted, but sometimes it makes losing even less fun. I see they have introduced a rank of Hermit, for those that no longer care about their ranking. I still like it, despite the last month, that it encourages me to get better at games and try new games to get the variety you need to go up in rank. But somehow it still doesn't feel fair when you lose so many ranking points in a game you lost on the tie-breaker.

Overall, the year so far (as the end of the first quarter) has been great for games. 152 games played is massively more than usual for me (I've been roughly at a game a day in previous years), over 39 different games, which somehow feels lower than usual, perhaps with good reason. Star Realms of course heads that list with 44 plays already, but Codenames and the comeback of Small World both have dimed and there are quite a few sitting at 5+ plays. Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King will definitely see more plays and I have been pretty happy with the new games in the collection: the afore-mentioned Colony Wars, Codenames and Isle of Skye, but also Matcha and Cat Tower have been fun and the Small World and Takenoko expansions we got (both of which got those games back in the mix).

Still to come: my favorite game and its best expansion (maybe?). Now all I have to do is find time in my wife's crazy schedule to play it. Hmmm, those The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game packs I still haven't played yet might have to come into play as well then.
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Fri Apr 1, 2016 6:04 pm
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What's Happened to the Colonies?

David
United States
DURHAM
North Carolina
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After the quick and successful card play of the original Star Realms, especially in our house where it led the most played lists for 10 months straight, the release of the stand alone expansion Star Realms: Colony Wars was always going to be hotly anticipated. Having picked it up last month, it has seen some pretty heavy play and I thought I'd share my impressions of the set.

I'm assuming for this post that the reader is at least passingly familiar with the original game, a quick playing deck builder with a central row of cards (representing ships and bases) to buy, with the aim of knocking out your opponent's authority through attacks. There are four factions, each with a different focus and a key part of the game is the ally action where you get some bonus if you played another card of that faction during the current turn.

And before I go further, I am not pretending to be some kind of expert at this game, pretty much casual 2 players against my wife is the extent of my experience. So tournament scene insights will not be expounded here.

The new set is, as I said, stand alone, so the familiar vipers and scouts are in there. But other than those cards, there are no repeats from the previous game, so every basic ship has been reinvented, though mostly along familiar lines; there are very few truly new mechanisms here. The one new thing comes from the cards that you can buy and take into your hand as long as you played a card of that faction this turn, a neat twist on the ally mechanic. And one that produces some dramatic moments.

Another aspect I noticed is that the bases feel more prevalent. I didn't do a count of the relative amounts, but from the games we have played, the outposts are still there but less common while the bases are more common - and bases that have 2 or 3 defense as well, so it adds to the decisions of a player turn, do I spend that combat to destroy the base or go for the player. Outposts are a neat idea but they force your move - you have to attack them first. With more bases, the attacker has to choose what to attack and that makes it more interesting.

The individual factions have broadly kept their focus, the blobs attacking, the trade federation boosting authority, the machine cult deck culling and the star empire draw and discarding. But they have tweaked it a little - especially the trade federation, used to be blue got a bit of fight in their defensive ways, but aside from a couple ships (the Peacekeeper!), a deck that has too much blue will lack the bite to take out their opponent.

The more aggressive factions seem just a bit more aggressive to me. Not a lot more. But we have had a string of come from behind victories, where one lands a punch that almost KOs their opponent and one more will take them down, only for that seemingly mortally wounded player to produce a monster turn of their own. That happened occasionally in the original too, but less frequently, more common was one player gets on top and stays there, wearing their opponent down. This one feels more swingy and exciting.

There is some interesting variation that you have to read carefully. The Machine Cult bots still cull your scouts and vipers, but they have mixed things up, some now only scrap cards in your discard pile and some only from your hand. The Stealth Needle of the set is Stealth Tower which copies another base in play. I noticed a bit less buying power from those bots though.

The blobs have the most similarity to the previous set, aggressive attackers, some get one free cards and a bit of card draw via allying. The Parasite is an interesting one, 6 combat or get a 6 cost ship for free, so good early, good late. They were also the faction that had more bases to gain ally abilities rather than defense, so that they have new ones there is not as such a change.

The star empire have been pumped up a little for my money. The low cost ship star barge is good for cash, giving them the money that the original bunch lacked. There is some decent medium sized hitters though, the lancer which does extra damage against players with bases is a popular choice. A bit of card draw, though a couple of those feel a little underpowered (I am especially thinking of the falcon here, 3 cost but 2 combat?). But they do have the heavy weight, the Emperor's Dreadnaught, a monster ship that can come directly into play as long as you played an imperial ship this turn. That can be a game changer.

Another thing I like about the set is the self-scrapping cards. Most of the time, these are a non-decision but sometimes, scrapping a card you bought (often with a useful ability) gives you that one more thing you need to turn the game - or finish off an opponent. Sometimes it is just an extra 3 or 4 trade to buy that big ship, or the extra combat you need. I have seen games where the scrap for one more card turned a modest attack into a monster one. But they do always provide that moment of indecision, am I going to see this again, do I need it any more? More of this can only be good.

So overall, Colony Wars is another set of Star Realms cards and that can only be good, but I think the little tweaks provide a little more dimension to the game. And I haven't even experimented with mixing the two decks together yet.

The photos for this post come from W Eric Martin, Firyar and FreedomDriven - thanks to all 3 of them!
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Fri Mar 18, 2016 9:34 pm
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The Rosenberg Three

David
United States
DURHAM
North Carolina
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We got in a trio of plays featuring the work of Mr Uwe Rosenberg in his 2-player series.

First up, calling to us from across the room, was Patchwork, the game of Tetris style quilting. This has been a big hit with us (along others) and surprises me with its subtleties. This play was no exception.

I got off to a fine start with patches spreading across my board while Jenny is more methodical with a better income. I spread across the board rapidly, while her patches are clustered in the top corner. I look for bargains and Jenny builds on her income, building out steadily so she gets the 7x7 bonus as I fill area but with some stylish holes worked into the design. But despite losing out on that bonus, I cover more and it ends up very close, especially as my income grew steadily (plus I wasn't spending too much) while Jenny got a lot with each income but spent a lot too. It ends up desperately close...my greater coverage and retained cash not quite matching her greater cash and 7x7 bonus though her larger empty space.
D: 24 buttons - 2x6 = 12
J: 28 buttons +7 - 2x11 = 13

Another play of this where in the middle of the game, I thought I had it covered (ahem). Super easy to learn but somehow it feels like one of his strongest designs in a while, and utterly different from his farming based oeuvre of late.

Immediately under Patchwork on the shelf was another Rosenberg game, Le Havre: The Inland Port.

It turned out to be a rather curious play. I laid it all out but then I remember I have to go get the car inspected. We get back to it later but Jenny had trouble getting back to it, the gap between plays being longer than I realized and there is some catching on to how it all works. She got a little frustrated that she needed to pay me for clay, having no other source available and not wanting to spend her last Francs. But she got over it, a building firm of her own then using my restaurant right ahead of me. And she consistently bought valuable buildings while I bought for utility first. And she had the cash for the pier and got the port too while I had the zoo and got a big pile of fish right before Jenny bought the fish bonus building. The clay one I did get was much less lucrative (and neither would have made up the gap).

D: $22 + 160 building + 8 clay = 190
J: $11 + 218 building + 5 fish + 5 wheat = 239

I'll point out that our previous games have all had a difference of 5 points or less. I am still processing just what happened. It is odd that I feel like this is a game I am familiar with and have played a lot but in actual fact, I've just played a few times. My wife says she finds it quite intense and is happy to have a gap between plays, not because she doesn't enjoy it (she does, especially when she wins by lots of points!) but because it is a brain burner in a little box, a lot to think about and a lot to consider.

After the two Uwe 2 player games, it seemed natural to suggest Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small especially as we hadn't played this with the expansion Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – More Buildings Big and Small yet. The shiny new buildings were the Insemination Center, the Hay Rack, the Sawmill and the Farm Shop. Jenny immediately built the Insemination Center. Adding the Hay Rack, she thought to grab 3 singles and breed quickly but then found she needed to do some work to make room for the animals she would breed - a definite infrastructure problem. Meanwhile I went stall...open stables, fencing and growing the herds the normal way. So I had a good amount of sheep and some horses. Jenny tried to get set to grab pigs and cows but the timing was off and I ended up with the bulk pig haul. She got better scoring buildings and finished 2 expansions but I had many more animals.

J: 12 sheep, 0 pigs, 4 cows, 6 horses; 2 expansions; 9 points buildings = 39
D: 16 sheep, 9 pigs, 1 cow, 7 horses; 1 expansion; 4 points buildings = 48

There had been a good gap between our plays of this one as well. I had got it because I wanted that mini-Agricola fix and Jenny has been less enthusiastic about playing the big game. AACBAS has the advantage of being shorter and more forgiving - no feeding your family - and only the animals to look after. It should be an easy sell. But she did not really ever take to it, finding it unsatisfying. After this particular play, she had something of a personal epiphany which partly explains her dissatisfaction for both the little and the large versions - it is a tight game in which you do not have time to do everything. You just have to pick what you want to do and hope for the best that it is better than what your opponent is up to. But it drives her a little crazy that nothing is ever quite finished. Even when the farm is complete and the board filled, there is almost always something else you could do. I have heard that criticism of Agricola before, where it ends just as you have your engine set up. Though really you should have it running by then and it loses its edge if it gets loose and easy. And my wife likes to finish things. So AACBAS, as a bite-size Agricola that retains at least some of that tension and that feeling that you can't do it all, falls short as a game that my wife can love.

It is funny how it goes, I would probably have ranked these 3 in the exact opposite order before I played them, though partly due to how I'd see how I'd like a game rather than considering how well they would go down with my main gaming opponent. I still might have thought she'd dig farming the animals though, over moving things through a warehouse or stitching up a quilt.

Thanks to bovbossi, The_Blue_Meeple and LiteBulb88 for their photos!
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Fri Mar 11, 2016 6:42 pm
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February: Codename Colony

David
United States
DURHAM
North Carolina
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After January's mass of plays, I expected February to fall a little short, but in the end, it held its own, with 48 plays of 16 different games, a very robust month boosted mostly by the arrival of new games in the form of Codenames and Star Realms: Colony Wars, plus our explorations of Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King. That's my best February in my records.

Our game nights this month were dominated by the lighter games - Codenames did take over a bit, but it was also the right game for those particular nights, a less hardcore crowd, some non-gamers even. A good time with some of the sillier games and trying out Deep Sea Adventure at its maximum capacity - and finding it quite satisfactory.

Game Qty
Codenames 15
Star Realms (including Star Realms: Colony Wars) 9
Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King 6
Small World 4
Deep Sea Adventure 2
Rhino Hero 2
Cards Against Humanity 1
Cat Tower 1
Coloretto 1
Electronic Catch Phrase 1
Piece o' Cake 1
Rat Hot 1
Splendor 1
Spyfall 1
Steam Works 1
Wits & Wagers 1

Codenames was obviously the hot game of the month and I already feel like I talked about it a lot. It did feature at our last game night of the month, last weekend, with our hostess repeatedly asking for it. To say it left an impression might be an understatement. But in addition to the two couples who had played it before, we had 4 more and these were at most occasional gamers, a quick party game when the mood was right. But they all took to it wonderfully, especially with us to take the Spy Master roles for the first game. Everyone took a turn at it though and we learned of the dangers of stretching a bit too far - my clue gave the opposition a word instead of us and we also saw our first assassin. It's a great design, so flexible and malleable by the group playing it and each clue giver can interpret it in their own unique way. So I suspect though I have talked about it a lot already, it will see much more play through the year.

And talking of games which see a lot of play, February saw the long-anticipated arrival of the new Star Realms box, Star Realms: Colony Wars. I can't remember ever buying a game and breaking the shrink right in the store before, but we did it with this game (though that was partly because we had a little spare time before we had to be somewhere). So far, we haven't mixed things, just played 'pure' Colony Wars. I like the mix of cards, feels like more bases than outposts with neat little abilities. And the cards which you get straight in your hand if you played the right faction that turn are a neat twist on the allying mechanic of the base game. It also felt like we were dealing out a bit more damage, but that might be just how things panned out, as there was one game where we hung out around our starting authorities as a bunch of trade ships kept both of us afloat and they definitely felt like they had less punch, which seems appropriate - better cash and authority boosting would be their specialty. Anyway, really nice to have new cards in the mix plus the added bonus of another 2 sets of scouts/vipers so multi-player games become more viable. It remains to be seen if those transpire.

I have to mention our game of Rhino Hero. We had already played once and we had fun piling up the cards. But we were playing on the kitchen table which had a light hanging down over it. And the tower was building up toward it. Our host thought it unlikely that we would reach it before it fell, but that next game we did. It was hilarious, players off turn were tasked with holding the light out of the way while the stories piled higher. We reached 12 stories, it was impressive. I tried to take a picture but my crappy iPod takes bad photos.

The other new game of the month was Cat Tower, which is rather like Rhino Hero in that it is a stacking game using cards but the twists come from a dice roll rather than the card play of the previous player. We just got the initial play in and it was pretty silly fun, though it seemed to lack a bit of the drama of the teetering tower from Rhino Hero as it never managed to get very high; the randomness of the dice roll rarely let things build up in any kind of stable fashion. Or perhaps my wife was just in a clumsy mood, because it was mostly her knocking it over. But for a whim purchase (and her whim not mine for once!), it should work out OK. The cats are cute.

We did explore Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, but I already talked about that. The only game night since then I did bring it, hoping to play a multi-player game but the group was too big and it wasn't really right for the moment. I think they will like it though, some juicy assessments to make.

The only non-light game we played was Steam Works. My friends had borrowed it and Rick had read the rules, but they were not getting it played, so they invited us over specifically for that purpose. Our first attempt at that had ended badly, started it too late in the evening, and the path to victory in this game is somewhat obscure at the beginning, prompting such comments as "I can see what I can do, but not what I should do". This time around, we got through the whole game and especially those latter rounds were exciting and engaging, lots of possibilities and opportunities. Rick's wife, ever the planner and analyst, won the game and then promptly declared she could never play it again - it was just too much calculation, that it became unfun for her. (And sadly she can't turn that off, her brain won't let her). Rick enjoyed it though, so we might bring it out again on a game night when Kristi is not around. And at home, I have been looking for a chance to try Mina's variant for 2 players with less tiles in the mix.

Online plays I have not tabulated, but there is news. I had a rather up and down month on Yucata, got promoted to Chilan Priest in a fairly tidy fashion and then went on a glorious losing streak, losing enough ranking points that I was promptly demoted again. There was a while when I thought I would never win again. Continuing to enjoy things on Boiteajeux, Agricola, Deus, Dungeon Petz, Trajan. Our game of Dungeon Lords was a bit of a disaster (I got the Paladin coming after me and then one of my monsters was turned into a sheep) and I still am struggling a bit with Tzolkin. Last game I finished with a negative score. And in the current one I thought I was getting corn that I didn't get because rules. SO I am not quite there with that one,to say the least.

I have also returned to Boardgamearena after not playing on there for a long time. I just found playing live games stressed me out, which is perhaps a weird response but the systems in place on BGA for making sure no one waits too long on a turn does feed into my anxiety. I knew they had implemented turn based gaming there but I had enough going on. However, the recent addition of Keyflower (plus the excited encouragement from some of my fellow online gamers) made me go over there again and I am in glorious summer of my first game. I already know I will have to play it again and that this was another good recommendation from readers of this blog (and on various other places on BGG!).
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Thu Mar 3, 2016 6:02 pm
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What's the Password?

David
United States
DURHAM
North Carolina
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I may be just jumping on a BGG bandwagon here but my copy of Codenames arrived last week and thus this week I have to talk about it.

There are some games that you can't really tell where the game is by reading reviews or the rules but Codenames is not one of those, a game so brilliantly simple in its premise that it seems amazing that no one has come up with it before. So despite the claims to be Cult of the Proven, I knew from the description that this was a game I would enjoy. And after failing to find it in my FLGS the last couple of trips, I got them to pre-order it for me, then got only 'out of stock' messages for the next week or so. Finally, suddenly, the email arrived. I stopped by the very same evening.

Codenames is a word game (look, it says so on the box) in which 2 teams are trying to pick out their words from a grid of 25. How they do this is via clues given by their Spymaster, the team leader who knows all the answers but can only communicate in enigmatic word:number utterances. So the spy master says "tree:2", he is saying that 2 of our team's words are related to the word tree somehow. The rest of the team then points at cards and the color of that card is revealed. If they are right, they can point again (up to the number their boss said plus 1), but if they are wrong, the turn is over. If it is a neutral (white) word, then not so bad, but the wrong color helps the opposing team and the dreaded assassin (black) means you immediately lose the game. First team to reveal all their words wins.

Now, we got it mid-week and the next mooted game night was not for 10 days. So what was I going to do? Well, there is a 2 player variant in the game, which from reading about it sounded like a good way to learn to play the game. Both players are on the same side and go first (so have to get 9 words revealed). One is the spy master giving clues, the other is guessing and after each turn, the spy master covers one of the other team's words up. There is some strategy to doing that. You win if you get all your words first and the extra challenge is that your score after doing so is ranked from "Well, at least you won" (1) to "Is that even possible?" (8: technically possible, yes, but only if you get all 9 of your words on turn 1!). So I proposed to my wife that we try it just to learn, knowing as I do her disdain for co-ops. She plays games to beat me, not some cardboard AI.

So we tried it with me as spy master and we did win on our first try, just about (score: 2). I did expect to win, but it turned out to be harder than I thought. Coming up with words to connect the words in the grid is not that hard, but coming up with words to link the words you need linked while also not linking them to other words you don't want to link to is notably harder. The assassin never was found but his presence was always felt.

What surprised me was how enthusiastic my wife was for this game, even as a 2 player. Obviously, she wanted a go as Spy Master, but we kept playing after that, for a total of 6 games back-to-back. Turns out she is the better clue-giver: Waterloo:3 got me war, tube and line! But some of mine were clearly a bit off, most of our "mistakes" were off my less-good clues. But after 6 games in a row, we were definitely ready for a "proper" game, though game night was not supposed to be till the following weekend.

But then we got a call on Friday night from our friends Rob and Karen. They are pretty new to gaming and we talked a lot the last time we met about games. Both are in love with Splendor right now and play it a lot, as a couple on a week night. So some of the talk was about other games like that. But they wanted us to come over and play some games, along with another couple, Rick and Kristi (who have been mentioned many times here before as they usually host our game nights). So I gathered up my 6 player games that play quickly and on top of the pile was Codenames.

Even as I opened up my box-o-games, the buzz grew. "A word game, I like word games." Now we know why it says it on the box.

I proposed that we held off playing Codenames and try some other things first. We played Deep Sea Adventure 6 player and it was a hoot. And then I was over-ruled and we played Codenames.

The reason I had suggested we play other things first was I suspected it would take over the game night and we wouldn't play anything else. That almost happened, we played 5 games in a row, with each couple taking a turn as Spy Masters then Karen declined on going again wanting to guess rather than clue. Needless to say it was a big hit. We saw some new things - Rob gave the clue litter:2 when that word was in the grid (and wasn't either of the words he was cluing for!), then I once again showed my subtle skills and went for fall:3. Rick correctly identified my 3 words right away and then Rob pointed out another word - 'trip' which I had failed to notice. And they guessed that one first.

The ladies did much better as a team, they lost the first game with some bad luck but stormed back and took all the rest.

I was struck again, perhaps more forcibly, how difficult it is to come up with strong clues without pointing at the wrong words. Again, the assassin never struck but still, it was a worry (and there was one moment where I was struck by 2 words that were possible, we were behind so I really ought to chase hard and try one...and fortunately I chose wisely). It is a game so clever and deceptively simple, you can hold it in my mind just hearing a brief summary of the rules, you can see what you need to do right away, but it is quite tricky to play well.

It is clearly a classic already, a brilliant game that anyone who loves words and games should try. I think it might take over a few more game nights in the future.

Photos this post from JanaZemankova, jgoyes and henk.rolleman - thanks to them!
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Fri Feb 19, 2016 6:13 pm
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A King Among Chieftains

David
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DURHAM
North Carolina
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After the urging of my dear readers (and as alluded to in my January summary post), we picked up Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King at the end of the month and we've been touring the highlands and the islands. So what did we think?

Firstly, everything looks excellent. The tiles are nice and thick, the art is wonderful (as expected from Klemens Franz), the graphics are clear, the bag is plenty big enough to really rummage around in and the screens are really good - stable but mobile and with a concise summary of the workings of a round on the back.

The game is a tile-layer with an interesting tile acquisition mechanism. It is played over 6 rounds with 4 (out of a possible 16) scoring tiles in play for each game. These are arranged in 4 spots, labelled A to D and these will score 3 times per game. But which scores on which turn is one of the clever parts, for on a given round only a subset of the scores will occur. So on turn 1, only scoring tile A will score, then on turn 2, only B. On turn 3, both A and C will and so on. This has a profound effect on the game.

Each turn, you will take your income (5 for your castle, 1 more for your barrels and possibly some more for being behind in points). Then each player will draw 3 tiles from the bag, putting them in front of their screen. Then they will assign cash to each tile, a bid if you will that anyone else who wants it must match to take that tile from you. Also, one of the tiles you get will get the axe (literally, there is an axe tile), meaning it will be discarded, leaving two others on offer. When this is done and the discards are removed, each player has the opportunity to buy one of their opponents' tiles Just one, and any money they have down in front of them assigned to a tile is not available to spend. They pay the owner the amount they ask then, once all players have either bought or passed, any tiles remaining in front of them they get - also for the price they set. Then everyone adds the tiles to their own bit of Scotland, matching terrain on each edge (as in Carcassonne) but roads do not have to match. Once this is done, the relevant scoring tiles are consulted and everyone scores points. The start player moves to the left and the whole process is repeated. After 6 turns, your current cash balance scores you a point per 5 coins and the scrolls found on some tiles also score now. Most VPs wins!

As of this writing, I have 7 plays of the game, all at 2 player, and all played within a week of getting the game. It was a curious exploration of the game, I played just making plays from the gut, not worrying too much about the amounts I was bidding, just what felt right. And somehow it all came together beautifully and I leaped out in front, then my wife got some things to match up (sets of buildings and lighthouse/ships combos) and had better scrolls for end game scoring, but my pile of coins at the end was such that I held her off. It was an exciting first game then we played again, but this time, I got ships which scored on B, so I obviously had most. But then, no more ship tiles (or at least none survived the axe!) came out until the final turn and I rather ran away with it. So we kept the same scoring tiles and switched starting players. This one was much more even and the ships anomaly did not repeat itself, but while I was slightly behind all game, my end game scoring was much stronger, especially my giant herd of highland cows.

Sometimes me winning several times in a row turns my wife off a game. She was definitely frustrated with the "lack of ships" incident. But a day or two later, she wanted a rematch. This time I got a bunch of completed mountain areas and this pushed me ahead, plus a nice collection of scrolls, which overcame her advantage in lighthouses and ships. Then we switched around again playing the same set and this time I got an early completed water feature, which was worth 2 points per tile. Water areas are sometimes hard to enclose as a lot of the tiles have 3 sides open, so while I got points for that, she was grumbling about her lack of scoring and my apparent ease of scoring. In fact, she challenged me to take over her side and see if I could salvage it. I gave it a go, but even with my magic touch, the original me beat her-and-me comfortably.

I had won 5 games out of 5! This does not usually happen, for a variety of reasons. So I was a little surprised when she got me playing it 'once more', a very determined look on her face. And this was the play, at last, that her bad luck turned around. There was scoring for brochs (stone towers) in the mountains and the more you had in an area, the better you scored. She got a full set of 3 in one mountain and another 2 in another later on. While I fret over every move, she cruised to a big win. And suddenly this game made sense to her. In the rematch of this set of scoring tiles, I did better and she didn't get the big scoring brochs, but she did get a solid income from a bunch of barrels and these were another scoring tile (most barrels), a 3 point per scoring edge that I could not overcome elsewhere.

I have a lot of positives for this game, the variable set up just mixes up every game, making some things so important but irrelevant in the next. The auction offering mechanism of the game is very clever. You have a selection of 3 tiles, one of which you must discard. But which one? The current round scoring and other scoring tiles guide that a bit, but the offering is also an opportunity to make some cash off your opponent and ideally you want to get the most money without being left to pay for it yourself. We would often be offering a cheap option (which did not much for the other player) and the premium option, which was very handy. And deciding how much you are willing to spend on something is something to consider as well, with the end game 5 coins = 1 point coming out as our exchange rate. But following all the ramifications starts to make the head spin.

The tile building part, as one comment put it, is much more like Glen More then Carcassonne (though building completed areas feels very much like city building in Carc), as you build your own bit of Scotland, arranging things as you need them for your scoring. The roads optional part is clever too, it might be a path to nowhere, but the roads need to link to the central castle for you to get the income from them via the whisky barrels and a few scoring tiles require road connections too. So roads are important to maintain but knowing when to break away from that is a big part of the game. Another part that feels a bit like Glen More is the importance of the money. Most games, money into end game points is a poor exchange at best but in Glen More, every coin is a point. It is not so strong here, but you can easily have a lot more money and the points you add from it at the end, in our games it has been in the range of 5-7, can readily affect the outcome.

Plus it is clearly well designed and quick playing, more in the 'is it over already?' camp than ever threatening to overstay its welcome. And that is part of why we keep playing 2 games back to back. Even playing those games with the same set of scoring tiles in the exact same places did not feel too similar, due to the differences in the tiles that came out through the game. There's a lot of game here. Like the box, it is full to the brim.

Concerns, I have a few. The possibility of seeing none of one particularly important feature (I see no ships!) and thus one player getting a big advantage in one scoring area without much effort is one. Is it possible to make up a 9 point swing (or more, in some cases) by just going all out in the other 3 scoring zones? I don't really think there is, though the game is quick enough that you can shrug it off and play again. Another is about the auction, though I think there is some group think coming in here, as after a few games, bids started hovering around the same amount in each phase of the game (low at the beginning, not much spare cash, but rising till it reached a limit of 5 or 6 coins). So is the auction mechanism that I like so much right now becoming a bit predictable? Though maybe that is a 2 player phenomenon. Indeed, the previous concern, the no ships problem, should be alleviated with more players as well, because more tiles will come out but also there will be more competition so everyone will get shut out of something.

So I thank you all for your recommendation and I can't wait to get this to the table with a larger group.

This post's photos courtesy of W Eric Martin, andre1975 and henk.rolleman. Thanks!
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Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:01 pm
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A Really Hot January

David
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DURHAM
North Carolina
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I've been faithfully logging every play for quite a while, back to 2008 reliably, a bit further back than that more spottily. And January 2016 turned in my highest single month play count in all that time, with 67 plays over 27 different games. It surpassed another January, 2011, not a coincidence it was the month after we got Dominion: Prosperity and Seaside. But this month was not dominated by one single game, rather a broader survey of games. But it does feature a new most played game for the month.

Small World (10 plays, all but 1 2 player with my wife Jenny, the other 3P with wife and son)

This game seems an unlikely candidate to dethrone the champion, an older game which we had played out, seemingly, a while ago. But a number of factors come into play. First, the iPad version of the game on sale. Which my wife picked up and then got some of the expansions: Small World: Be Not Afraid..., Small World: Grand Dames of Small World and Small World: Cursed!. The next step was that she became a little obsessed with it, playing it over and over. And finally, the game has a Face-to-Face mode, like Pass'n'Play but for 2 player - you can sit opposite and it displays your stuff from your side on your turn without you having to rotate the device or even move it. So it was something we could play on the couch, at a restaurant, waiting in line, pretty much anywhere. And importantly, having a computer do all the fiddling with the little bits (though I admit I kinda like that part) makes the games go by pretty fast. It has been a lot of fun messing around with the new stuff and even the kids have joined in (sometimes with some gentle coercion) so it has been a great game for us.

Star Realms - 9 plays (all 2P with my wife)

For 10 months straight, I have been opening my Most Played list with Star Realms. It has racked up 146 plays in that time and was so close to holding onto that title for an 11th month. It has fallen off a little - in frequency of play at least. But when Star Realms: Colony Wars lands at the FLGS, I suspect it will pick back up, perhaps even with more multi-player as both my children have enjoyed this game. And it still holds a crucial spot in the 'what do we play tonight, nothing too long or complicated' genre of games.

Ghost Stories - 6 plays, all solo

Last year, I played through all the different monks one at a time (my preferred mode) on Initiate level. I got plenty of losses, but I began to start to get my head above water more. So I challenged myself this year to play on Normal level. My goodness, the first couple games were rough, overwhelmed by haunters and curses, it was a toss-up if I would be killed or haunted out of the game. But I took my losses and came back stronger and I won the game with my favorite green monk, twice in a row. And the first time it felt like I was rolling really well, worrying me that I had to roll really well to bet the game. But the second win came more easily with less reliance on the dice and more on good planning and taking opportunities. And dealing with curse-throwers without mercy. And I won on my second attempt with the yellow monk too. I might even be getting better at this game. Imagine that.

Guildhall/Guildhall: Job Faire - 6 plays (all 2P with my wife)

A year ago we were playing this quite a bit and it seemed like a good contender for most played of the year, with us playing "mega" Guildhall with 2 and having taught it to a few in the game group with just the base game. But it tailed off a bit, partly due to other games and partly due to set up considerations - going between everything in to only half is a good few minutes of card sorting and then shuffling. But it came back off the shelf this month, as part of our first day of gaming of the year. Mega-Guildhall, so all 12 guilds in the game, a great big deck. It was fun but it did get a bit bogged down. And when we played it the next day, it seemed like the game actually stalled as we drew cards we already had in play and it was not a card combo bonanza we usually enjoy but a race to draw a certain card. Then my wife suggested slimming down the deck to only 2 copies of each card (as opposed to 4) so that then every card drawn is potentially useful to someone, even if it isn't you. We gave it a try. First, the deck was much smaller and easier to shuffle. Second, there was still a bit of an incubation time at the beginning of the game as things built up but it got crazy faster and played out to completion in a much more satisfactory fashion. Safe to say, this was a variant that was a big hit and as a 2 player at least, that will be the way we play it from now on.

Matcha - 6 plays (all 2P, oddly enough)

This was a game store pick up from that day recently when nothing seemed to be calling out to me - or at least nothing I felt like I could afford that day. But a micro game about the Japanese tea ceremony seemed like it might be interesting.

The game centers around collecting one each of the 5 items you need for the tea ceremony, or alternately 4 of one item. There are cards representing 4 of the items, each numbered 1-4, plus 2 zero cards. 6 cards will be laid out in the middle in 3 pairs and then each pair will be considered by each player, playing cards face down in one or both spots. If you play to a card and your opponent does not, you get the item shown on the card. If you both play there, the best match wins the item (they should match on either number or symbol, there is one of each per pair). If you play a card that does not match, you win the 5th item (the white whisk) instead - unless both of you mismatch. After the first pair is resolved, cards are played out to the middle pair and so on. You only have 5 cards to play, so you have to pass at least once, so working out when to do that is part of it. After all 3 pairs have been resolved, assuming no one has won yet, a new set of 3 pairs is dealt out and the process begins over again. It has been our experience the game is usually done some time in the second full round.

Our first couple of games felt pretty random, my wife had 4 of the items on our first turn and I just had 3 of the yellow sticks. But then it laid out perfectly for me to get the last yellow stick I needed and that was that. It felt a little anticlimactic and abrupt. But as we played again, we started looking and thinking a bit more, working out what our opponent might try to play and looking for ways to counter. And then maybe including some bluff as well. You are still very much constrained by the cards you are dealt - you might want to win that blue 4 but a lack of that kind of card in your hand makes it tricky if it gets contested. My favorite moment of playing this so far was we were both close to winning but my wife just needed either a red bowl or one more white whisk. So she could win it by matching the card at the red bowl - or by not matching it on purpose and winning that way. I had a great card to win the red bowl...but maybe that was the wrong move? That agonizing moment of indecision just made the game for me (and I guessed wrong too).

It is a neat little game, very beautiful. And it makes me more eager than ever to pick up the designer's other game about tea, Elevenses which has been out longer but not shown up in my FLGS yet...

I won't go over every game here, those were the 'most played' but I will briefly mention the new to me games too.


I already talked about Monty Python Fluxx in my last post, so no more needs be said here. If you like shrubberies and naked organists, you probably will be OK with this.

We did get to try out Takenoko: Chibis. My wife picked it up, I think as a present for herself last year. But she put it on the shelf and said it was 'for Christmas' and then we sort of forgot about it. But at last we remembered and I am glad we did. Takenoko is a very pleasant family game but sometimes the achievements you are trying to get fall in your lap and other times (especially the gardener ones) they just seem impossible for not that many points. Chibis adds Ms Panda, another adorable little panda miniature who moves around like the original panda but does not eat - because she is ready to mate and apparently pandas don't eat then. But if she moves to the spot where the male panda is, biology happens and a baby panda appears - and gives the player who did it a little bonus as well as a couple points. In addition, it adds some new achievements and some more land tiles, with a variety of interesting effects. One had one of each bamboo and all grow at once. Another causes all the bamboo of that type to grow all over the garden, not just adjacent. And there is another lake tile to help with irrigation. And a few more but those were the ones that came up in our game - the extra lake came out right away in fact! It is a little more involved but I thought a good bit more satisfying, with the gardener achievements a bit easier. It ended up a close game - my wife won because she got the Emperor's 2 points - and I think it will be a permanent addition to our games of Takenoko.

And there was one more new-to-me game played in January and it is all you lot's fault I got it: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King. First impressions: we liked it a lot (and agree with you about the non-similarity with Carcassonne). For the fuller write-up...see next post.

Photos for this post from crosenkrantz (Small World), bkunes (Guildhall), huffa2 (2 of the Matcha, punkin312 (the other Matcha) and styren (Takenoko) - thanks a lot!
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Fri Feb 5, 2016 7:22 pm
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A Really Cool Birthday Party

David
United States
DURHAM
North Carolina
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Our last game night was in danger last week, with warnings of bad weather coming. It was a real shame too, as it was their son Jacob's birthday, sp there was going to be a trip to the Escape Room for the kids and I was going to be the responsible adult (both his parents had already gone through this escape room so someone who didn't know the answers was ideal). Then there was going to be more games back at the house with cake and ice cream. It was going to be a good time. But wintry weather doesn't have to be particularly bad to put a stop to things here.

The Friday was bad but the storm passed over and enough plowing had occurred that roads were passable if not great. The Escape Room stayed closed and cancelled that part but it was decreed that, if we could get down there, the party would go ahead. My wife Jenny had already ventured out to go look after some dogs for her job, so we were game. And indeed to make it a little easier, we were offered the gust room (the kids were supposed to stay over anyway), so we wouldn't have to drive home in the generally icy conditions.

The traditional Birthday Pizza was due soon so we open up with some Deep Sea Adventure.

We moved down in a group, each grab a 2 and swam back up but the dice were nicer to some than others and Jenny ended up just short as the air ran out. Round 2 was very similar, Rick and I got back pretty comfortably but Kristi and Jenny were struggling a bit. Kristi was close but fumbled her roll on the last turn. Jenny was behind her and needed a double 3 to make it out...and rolled it!
Final round went a little oddly, both Rick and Jenny turned back a little early and of course made it out easily. I ended up a little deeper than I meant to get but with 2 out early both Kristi and I have time to make it out. And I have the best treasures.

I wondered if, after some hilariously optimistic dives, this game might settle into a rather set groove but there was still enough variation, coming a lot from the roll of the dice, to separate divers and challenge them in different ways. I am so glad I picked this up.

Pizza awaited us back on the boat at the end of Deep Sea Adventure so we replenished our energies, then after we had that we got back to gaming. Another shortish game required so that was flavor of the month Splendor. Jenny blockaded black for a while but tried a middle row strategy without enough bottom row stuff to push it along so she started off strongly but fell back. I went for one of the nobles in a fairly focused fashion pushing up green especially and that paid off, I could then spring board into some other scoring cards and it all enabled me to cash in for a 4/4 noble and a scoring card to push me up above 15 before anyone else.

My group loves this game. I am happy to play it but I am not quite getting their enthusiasm (and I am prone to feeding off such enthusiasm myself). It's fine. But not best ever game material. Am I missing something? I even won 2 out of the 3 games we have played.

As part of the birthday party, the boys were going to play a couple games. So I led them in a game of Exploding Kittens while the other adults played Basari. That was pretty interesting, the dynamic of a teen/tween group of boys, one of which was not that interested and was happy enough when he got blown up. But a couple of the others were making smart plays (as far as smart plays will take you in this game). And my eldest was calmly hoarding cards. It went down to the end, with my son's hold lots of cards till the end game approach working out (plus he got the extra defuse). Then the whole horde was gone in an instant.

When I wandered back into the adult game room, the game of Basari was not even half done and Rick let me have his spot in the game while he did some other things. He left me in quite a spot, lacking gems and behind in points but I rallied a bit, winning green though I fell short of the full lap by a whisker. Kristi got that and yellow while Jenny claimed the other 2 and her lead only grew in the third round, helped by a lack of blue so she ended up winning that with a 2 gem holding. I jumped ahead in the lap race, plus I maintained my lead in green. Kristi's challenge to Jenny in red and yellow actually fell away and I was on to finish the lap with a roll of 2...and I rolled a 1. So everyone completed the lap and I won green, while Jenny won all the rest. So I managed to catch Kristi for a share of 2nd place...well behind Jenny.

The boys were supposed to play their other game led by Rick but they were off playing something with nerf guns so we played Wits & Wagers. A cheeky low bid after Rick led off meant we were leading mid-game. A couple of colonial America questions - oldest city in the US (Saint Augustine, FL) - how old? Older than I thought but Rick had a pretty good idea. So he was a bit ahead. Final question was also colonial, Jenny went all in with a slightly off answer - she had lagged all game and needed a big win with no one else getting much to win. That didn't pay off. Rick split his bet and I went more for one, as did Kristi. But I kept some back to make sure of 2nd place and Kristi did not, betting enough and winning that she took 72 points in that hand alone and she jumped over both Rick and me to win.

We love us some Wits & Wagers. Though we keep discussing the 'best way' to bet. The allowed to change your bet as much as you like until the sand runs out is fine but we keep wanting to tinker with it to stop tactical betting - so I will bet just enough to keep you behind me whatever the result. Perhaps we just need to hide our winnings?

That game the boys were supposed to play after Exploding Kittens was Monty Python Fluxx but they weren't coming back to the table. So (over Kristi's objection) we played it instead. I've played Fluxx, I find it OK, not as anti as some but Kristi likes control in her games so this chaos really gets to her. Still, she gamely played and we had some fun - an excuse to quote the great work is always welcome for most of us. It was a bit annoying at the beginning with a draw-5 rule but still only play-1 so hands grew to enormous size but then a play-4 came out and then Kristi played King Arthur, Excalibur and then dumped down the goal that used those two, I think it was "Strange Women Lying in Ponds Distributing Swords is no Basis for a System of Government". She admitted after she was trying to make Jenny win!

It was supposed to be Kristi's pick after suffering Fluxx but she deferred to the rest of us and someone suggested Crokinole. Rick and I teamed up against Jenny and Kristi and the opening was like pro level, I shot in the hole, then Kristi did then Rick did! It settled down after that and I did a lot more pinging off the posts but the boys built a lead over several rounds, only for that to evaporate when a couple of disastrous post pings opened it up for the ladies to leap forward into the lead with a 60 point round, then they completed their come-back the next round to take victory.

Dexterity was now the way forward so we piled up the stories in Rhino Hero. Game 1 Kristi got underway with a double roof and I got some down early on and felt pretty safe for a while as it was over on Rick and Jenny's side but then it came back to Kristi, she balanced the roof as far one way as she could and made me put the rhino up there. That did not go well, giving her the win and me the joy of knocking it down.
Game 2 and it was a while before I even got to play as it went back and forth plus skipped me once. Everyone else was getting their cards played while Jenny was ahead thanks to a double. And Kristi set me up again with a tantalizing rhino placement. And I obligingly knocked it down again. but this time she gave the win to Jenny.

We finished off with Parade, as energy began to droop. Jenny had a torrid time, she kept just picking up cards and I really was worried that the couple purple I had would count me out as Kristi and Rick had just 1 card each. But Jenny held at 5 colors and the other two began to take some points and it was pretty clear that the game was mine for the taking as I took either only purple or low cards. I was holding 2 purple for the end but things became a little tricky as the end game triggered and I had to use both of them though fortunately I had managed to acquire 2 low cards in another color by then and so it was smooth and I scored 8, with Rick just behind with 11. And Jenny with majorities in about 4 colors did not score quite so high as she might have.

That was all the gaming, we then joined the boys in the lounge to see what the big movie they were going to watch. The selection was Dodgeball and I confess I rolled my eyes a little, though I will concede it was perfect for approximately 14 year old boys at a sleep over. We were thinking we'd just slope off to the guest room but ended up watching the whole thing and laughing a lot. The Wall Street Journal reviewer did not want to review it but then when he did, he apologized saying Dodgeball "is erratic, imbecilic if not completely idiotic, inconsequential in even the small scheme of things, and thoroughly entertaining". I thought that got it about right and it was a huge hit with the crowd it was playing to this night.

And that was that, all in all, a pretty cool birthday party, ice laid on outside and everything.

Photos for this post come from (in order of appearance) van00uber, FreedomDriven, ZackStack, joshp, punkin312, TheCelt and matador. Thanks to all of them!
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Mon Feb 1, 2016 6:16 pm
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New Year, New Game?

David
United States
DURHAM
North Carolina
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I was in the friendly local game store recently, partly to pick up my wife's Groo subscription, but while we were there, it seemed rude not to browse the game shelves as well.

We wandered the shelves, looking at the new releases, poking around the small box games, casting an eye over the big shelf of various older games. And I had a slightly curious feeling - that I didn't really need to pick up anything today.

I should add a caveat or two before anyone sends out the BGG gamer paramedics. If I had seen Codenames, I would have bought it. But though my browsing before I got there said it was in stock, I couldn't find it. And there were certainly games there I wouldn't mind at very least trying out if not owning myself. But there are a number of competing factors, not least being 'if I have this game, why do I need this other game?' I did look hard at Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King and I was tempted but the other part is that I need some buy-in from my wife as well. She wasn't convinced. Her thought was that if she wanted Scottish, we have Glen More and doesn't it look a bit like Carcassonne. She already thinks we don't play Carc enough. So if I have those covered, why do I need Isle of Skye?

Cost is a factor too. The post-Christmas austerity, but also we are going on a school trip to the Galapagos this Spring, a glorious bucket list opportunity. But it also is not a casual cheap excursion, so new games are a luxury we perhaps shouldn't be indulging.

Another thing I have slowly come to realize (after more than a couple false starts) is that I do need that back up from my wife. She is the one that will be playing most if not all of these with me so if she don't like it, even if I love it, the chances are strong it will languish on the shelves, unplayed. This is slimming down my BGG browsing too, the long games are really unlikely to qualify. Even though I enjoyed the couple times I dipped a toe into the 18xx games, I don't see her doing the same - a game of 4+ hours with a lot of math is really far from her wheel house.

The part of me that wants to try new things is really left to learning games on Yucata and Boiteajeux. Jenny likes simple but replayable games, that she can master. I have not really been a member of the Cult of the New for a while but I have tried to council myself that the Cult of the Proven is a better place to be anyway, especially for someone who does not often get to try before he buys.

I know that another factor is seasonal, that I distinctly recall about a year ago feeling exactly this way, that I didn't really have much need for more new games, that the ones I had already will keep me going and gaming through the year. But I did end up picking up a few here and there. But for now, I will just browse and then get back to playing what's on my own shelf already.
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Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:16 pm
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Rambling on About 2015

David
United States
DURHAM
North Carolina
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Already a week into the New Year and I still haven't put together a post looking back at the year of gaming as a whole. Or indeed a post of any kind, though it is partly the back to work drive and partly that best of reasons, playing games instead of writing about them.

But a post about that little batch of gaming will have to wait. First, the age old question, how was gaming for me in 2015?

All in all, it came in at a fantastic 464 plays for the year, compared with 2014 (393 plays), 2013 (263 plays), a very positive trend. My best in my BGG logging plays career, though back before then, in the regular CCG games days, I suspect I managed more - and this year's total was boosted by a CCG-like frenzy of play.

List of the games played at least twice (first logged plays in bold):
Game Qty
Star Realms 137
Rat Hot 21
Guildhall (with Job Faire) 19
Ghost Stories 14
Animal Upon Animal 13
Fluxx 11
Deep Sea Adventure 9
No Thanks! 9
Rhino Hero 9
Lords of Waterdeep (with Scoundrels of Skullport) 8
Parade 8
Small World (including Cursed!, Be Not Afraid and Grand Dames expansions) 8
Asante 7
Exploding Kittens 7
Patchwork 7
Hive (with Mosquito, Ladybug and Pillbug expansions) 6
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival 6
Qwirkle 6
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small 5
Elder Sign 5
Epic 5
Race for the Galaxy (with 1st arc expansions) 5
Roll for the Galaxy 5
Dominion (with Seaside and Prosperity) 4
Draco Magi 4
Friday 4
Hansa 4
Steam Works 4
YINSH 4
Coup 3
Cribbage 3
Diamant 3
DVONN 3
Electronic Catch Phrase 3
Le Havre: The Inland Port 3
Hey, That's My Fish! 3
Ingenious 3
Jungle 3
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game 3
Nations: The Dice Game 3
Snowdonia 3
Splendor 3
Terror in Meeple City 3
Tigris & Euphrates 3
The Train Game 3
Apex Theropod Deck-Building Game 2
Ascension: Deckbuilding Game 2
Biblios 2
Carcassonne: The Castle 2
Firefly: The Game 2
El Grande 2
Jambo 2
Merchant of Venus 2
Mice and Mystics 2
Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper 2
Piece o' Cake 2
Prolix 2
PÜNCT 2
Spyfall 2
Tales & Games: The Three Little Pigs 2
Traders of Carthage (now Osaka) 2
Ubongo 2
Wits & Wagers 2
Wyatt Earp 2
Zombie Dice 2
Zooloretto: The Dice Game 2

Notable singleton plays (new to me): Android: Netrunner, Dune, Humm...ble, King of Tokyo (with Power Up), Loopin' Chewie, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Shut the Box, Ticket to Ride (on India map)

Most played (Star Realms) will come as no surprise to anyone following this blog or some of my other BGG contributions. I didn't quite make a 10x10 (unless I can use Star Realms more than once...), 6 dimes but 5 more plays and I had it, with 3 at 9 plays for the year. All in all, 17 nickels is quite a lot and another 43 games with at least 2 plays.

H-index for the year: I played 9 games at least 9 times. And overall, my H-index went up to 23.

New-to-me games: Most new to me games are because I bought them, but my friend Rick came up with quite a few from the vaults, including the classics Dune and Merchant of Venus and the unexpectedly fun Humm...ble. I don't generally play a lot of new games so a total of 31 new to me games and 9 new expansions is about what I'd expect, maybe a little higher actually.

New in the Collection: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (and More Buildings expansion), Android: Netrunner, Animal Upon Animal, Apex Theropod Deck-Building Game, Asante, Deep Sea Adventure, DVONN, Epic, Exploding Kittens, Jungle, Lanterns: the Harvest Festival, Le Havre: the Inland Port, Loopin' Chewie, Patchwork, Rhino Hero, Roll for the Galaxy, Snowdonia, Star Realms, Steam Works, Terror in Meeple City (as Rampage), The Train Game. (I owned King of Tokyo: Power Up, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and Ticket to Ride: India & Switzerland before the turn of the year).

Out of the Collection: Machi Koro, Othello, Risk, Upwords. We had a big spring clean and got rid of some of the old games we don't play any more. Those went to the thrift store. Machi Koro I sold though for a loss - by the time I sold it, the supply had caught up and the demand was not there.

Total collection: 269 games, including 61 expansions.

Online gaming also had a bumper year. I am still playing a mix of tournaments and pick up games on Yucata.de, numbers boosted by a regular participation in the Underworld League, which has short, quick playing 2 week tournaments. So my total number of completed games on Yucata ended up at 788, quite a bit higher than previously, as compared to 2014 (553 games) and 2013 (658 games). But as well as the tournaments, I play some more casual games, mostly through the Lords and Ladies of Yucata guild on BGG, where there are people wanting to learn games (hi Alicia!) and a vote to determine the Game of the Week (hi Jesse!). I climbed a few ranks in the meta-game there too, I started at Novitiate and have climbed to Macom Priest, which is 6 promotions during the year. Actually I had 7 because I had my first demotion as well - going on a losing run right after promotion is not a good plan. As of today, I have 2068 completed games, Roll Through the Ages remains my most played (170 plays) and El Grande remains my highest True Skill (1323). I have 3 games where I am in the top 100 - El Grande, Targi and (new for this year) Maori. I learned a good few games there too, including Cacao, A Few Acres of Snow, Founding Fathers, Industrial Waste, Kashgar, La Isla, Nations: the Dice Game, Pergamon, Sobek, Space Mission and the Voyages of Marco Polo.

In addition to Yucata, I came back to play at Boiteajeux.net. Now, I play there a lot less, completing a mere 38 games, but they do have some games I was interested in trying out, including Concordia, Deus, Dungeon Petz and Tzolkin. And I also learned Trajan (which I have ended up liking more than I expected). The GIPF games, I tried out a bit too, but then I got back to playing those in real life, so I put them aside. Plus, of course, Agricola. I did also compare the different versions of Castles of Burgundy and Nations: Dice Game. I learned Burgundy on Yucata so I am used to that version and like it a bit better - the wide screen format of the BaJ one puts me off a bit. But I think Nations is a little better on BaJ, it does a few things a bit more smoothly, though I am happy playing it on either site.

And that, as they say, is that for 2015. Next post will be about what I am looking forward to in 2016.
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Fri Jan 8, 2016 9:41 pm
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